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Love Letter – How to build the healthiest and fittest you

We all know that what we do is CrossFit. The definition of CrossFit is, “Constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity”. The definition itself can be dissected even more but if we only focus on CrossFit being that, then we are missing the boat on what CrossFit is really trying to do for us. 


CrossFit’s main mission is to help everyone improve their health and they start with nutrition. If you go to crossfit.com you will find thousands of articles related to nutrition. You will find so many resources focused on chronic diseases. When you read some of these articles you will notice a very common point, they focus heavily on nutrition. Many athletes believe CrossFit is just an exercise modality but it’s not. If you look up the definition of fitness by CrossFit you will notice that the first 26 words are all related to nutrition (https://journal.crossfit.com/article/what-is-fitness). What does that mean? It means our health starts with our nutrition. 


CrossFit has created “The Theoretical Hierarchy of Development” (https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/theoretical-hierarchy-of-development) which shows us how we should build our overall health and fitness. Please note that we as a gym and staff believe in this completely and our goal is to build everyone this way. You will notice that there are 5 levels and if you want to be the healthiest and fittest version of yourself, you must start from the bottom up. That is your foundation and a strong foundation will support anything you build on top of it. 


The first place we should all focus on is our nutrition. Our nutrition is everything. It dictates how we perform, recover, sleep, mood, muscle growth, and energy. You can’t outperform or out workout bad eating. It does not matter how many workouts you do a week or day, if your nutrition does not consist of real food, the right amount, and vegetables, then you are holding yourself back tremendously. After your nutrition, you need to focus on your conditioning. Are you able to run far? Are you able to run sprints? Can you perform just as well in the rowing machine versus the bike or versus the run? Are you able to work then rest and maintain your level of performance? Your conditioning is based on your energy systems which are the phosphagen system (anaerobic), glycolytic system (anaerobic), and oxidative system (aerobic). If you build a strong engine then you can continue to move throughout your workouts but remember, you must feed your engine good fuel (nutrition) to keep moving. 


The bottom of the hierarchy is ignored the majority of the time. A lot of athletes ignore their nutrition and don’t like to do “cardio” which is your conditioning. Athletes tend to skip straight to gymnastic (bodyweight movements) and weightlifting (external loads). Once they skip to these levels, they realize that weightlifting looks better, so they try to skip over gymnastics as well. You must be able to have the motor control skills, flexibility, strength, and ability to move your own bodyweight before you start to move external loads. If there is any faults in your gymnastic skills, any external load will highlight that fault. Even worse, it can lead to injury. Master the fundamentals of an air squat, push up, pull up/ring row, sit up, burpee, box jump, plank hold, and hollow holds. I guarantee that if you master these gymnastic skills you will move any external load a lot better. But remember, these two levels are built off your conditioning which is built off your nutrition. 


The top of the hierarchy is sport. This is any sport you may play or maybe it’s hiking or bike riding or playing with your kids or simply just living life. You will notice that if you build yourself the way the hierarchy tells us to do it, you will become the healthiest and fittest version of yourself. You will notice how your performance will not only drastically improve in the gym, but in life overall.

Respectfully,

Josh Melendez

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